Jacksonville’s Plan to Reduce the Number of Uninsured Children in Duval County

August 8, 2014

This post was written by Cheryl Townsend, Cover Jacksonville Project Director. It originally appeared in NLC’s blog CitiesSpeak.

There are over 25,000 uninsured children in Duval County (Jacksonville, FL). Many of these children qualify for insurance through Medicaid or Florida Healthy Kids (Florida KidCare), but most of their parents are simply not aware. And, while efforts have been made in the community to increase enrollment, ongoing challenges have created barriers to its success. Some of Jacksonville’s challenges have historically been a lack of strategic focus on community health, a very large five-county geographic service delivery area, and insufficient funding for educational outreach to get to all areas. Therefore, Jacksonville is extremely excited to begin implementation of the Cover Jacksonville campaign as a result of receiving the Cities Expanding Health Access to Children and Families grant from the National League of Cities.

Cover Jacksonville is a health campaign that builds on existing enrollment efforts and leverages community resources in order to reduce the number of uninsured Duval County children by 20% by December 2015. Led by the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, the campaign’s key partners include the Mayor’s appointment of Jacksonville’s first-ever Commissioner of Health, THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, United Way of Northeast Florida, the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida and Duval County Public Schools. Cover Jacksonville will focus on four outreach and enrollment strategies:

  • Building Capacity: Understanding and tackling obstacles through training and education of community stakeholders, parents, and elected officials.
  • Raising Awareness: Promoting a culture of health and education about insurance options, using phone banks and on-the-ground enrollment events, and online at http://www.coverjax.org (coming soon!).
  • Establishing a Single Point of Access: Streamlining the consumer information-gathering process by directing consumers to United Way of Northeast Florida’s 2-1-1 hotline, where parents will be able to schedule appointments with Community Enrollment Assisters at various sites located throughout the city.
  • Identifying Uninsured Children through Public Schools: Establishing a pilot program at three schools (Bartram Springs Elementary, Twin Lakes Middle School, and Atlantic Coast High School) to identify uninsured children through school enrollment questionnaires and using trained school officials, who will work to get these children coverage.

After analyzing secondary data and input from community leaders and parents, Cover Jacksonville will target working poor families with uninsured children. Previous community enrollment efforts utilized Health Zone designations to identify targeted areas, which left out families from pockets of poverty that fell outside the city’s urban core. By targeting working poor families throughout the county, however, Cover Jacksonville ensures these families will no longer be overlooked.

The Cover Jacksonville campaign will govern itself using a shared governance model, emphasizing: collaboration, shared decision making, and accountability to improve the quality of care, safety, and enhance work life. This includes the creation of the Cover Jacksonville Advisory Board, led by the Commissioner of Health, and the Cover Jacksonville Action Committee, led by the Project Director.

During the planning process, participation and invaluable input from the city’s top leadership provided a vision for what would eventually become Cover Jacksonville. These leaders included Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown; The Honorable Mia L. Jones, Florida House of Representatives and Special Assistant to the Mayor; Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, Duval County Public Schools; The Honorable Kimberly Daniels, City of Jacksonville Public Health and Safety Committee Chair and City Council liaison to the Children’s Commission Board of Directors; The Honorable Ray Holt, Jacksonville City Council; Michael Aubin, Hospital President, Wolfson Children’s Hospital; Dr. Kelli Wells, Director, Duval County Health Department; Dawn Emerick, Principal/Owner, Impact Partners (formerly President & CEO, The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida); Connie Hodges, CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida (ret.); and Jon Heymann, CEO of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.

From January to April 2014, key partners held three additional meetings, in which they reviewed data, developed key messages, inventoried assets, developed a process map for the referral system, and established campaign performance measures. In parallel to the community leadership meetings, five consumer focus groups were also conducted. The initial campaign strategy was to target child and family health insurance enrollment, however, the consumer focus groups and key partners unanimously indicated a strong need to combine those outreach efforts and messaging with the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace’s existing adult enrollment efforts. As a result of this significant finding during the market analysis, the business plan reflects noteworthy collaborative efforts between the child and adult efforts such as a new consolidated brand, Cover Jacksonville.

In July of 2014, as we move into the implementation phase of Cover Jacksonville, we will continue to share our lessons with the hope that more stakeholders will understand the needs in our community and become more direct with their priorities for our children. And through collaboration and alignment of existing efforts and resources, the outcomes we expect to emerge not only include a decrease in the number of uninsured children, but a community-wide approach to sustaining a culture of health and wellness in Jacksonville, Florida.

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